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A Modest Independence

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Member Reviews

I love Mimi Matthews and this novel does not disappoint,  it features a heroine in need of adventure and a staid, conservative accountant letting his hair down for a change.  But the best thing about this book is that, even though the characters never think of themselves as attractive to the opposite sex, they are the most alluring person to their partner.  I think this is so much better than the hero and heroine being above average all the time as it makes the story more realistic.  Real people are attracted to real people.  I loved the dialogue and the struggle for both characters to be true to themselves. Read it in one sitting.
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Matthews ' books are just so delightful to anyone who loves a classic romance without sex on the page. Page-turning historical background worldbuilding, characters that are very compassionate, plenty of suspense and action to keep the pages turning and a really enjoyable romance. 

Jenny was such a good and relatable heroine. Great historical detail, very sympathetic characters, lots of conflict and action to keep the pages turning, and enjoyable romance. Jenny was a great heroine and so relatable. Tom was a kind, wise, compassionate hero and felt like a breath of fresh air. Their interactions with each other were very sweet and rational and they resolved their dispute in a convincing manner. Journey storeys can be hard to pull off, but this one went really well and I loved all the fascinating settings that Victorian-era literature doesn't see as much.
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This was such an entertaining and informative historical romance.  Great character development and such detailed and interesting facts about nineteenth century India.  The story flows smoothly, and although it is book two of three, it definitely is stand alone.
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A Modest Independence is almost as good as The Matrimonial Advertisement.  Just when you think it's a straightforward story, BAM! A twist. Mimi Matthews is a wonderful story teller.
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The story of Jenny Holloway and Tom Finch is a very romantic read. They both find themselves drawn to each other but prefer to pursue their own interests above a relationship.

Jenny wants to use her recently acquired modest indepence to travel and while she's at it discover what really happened to the Earl of Castleton in India.

Tom wants to continue his safe and secure existence as a solicitor. But, when Jenny approaches him with the desire to use her funds to travel to India. He balks at her traveling unaccompanied. He finds that he has feelings for her and he hopes he can persuade her that she has feelings for him in return.

As they travel from London across seas, through, Egypt, and then India, they find themselves taking liberties and in each other's arms. It is a struggle to maintain their ruse of brother and sister to protect Jenny's reputation. 

Ms. Matthews does a great job with describing the angst of their relationship, allowing, the romance to blossom, while describing the scenic backdrop, and including a little mystery as well.

But will Jenny choose Tom or her new found freedom...and Tom will he let go of Jenny because he loves her? This is a great read, 5 stars, worth your investment of time. Thanks to Victory Editing for allowing me to read this ebook through Netgalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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I absolutely loved this book and I can't wait to read future works from the author in the future. I'm really enjoying this book series as well.
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Matthews, Mimi. A Modest Independence. Perfectly Proper. (Parish Orphans of Devon, Bk. 2). Apr. 2019. 476p. ebk. ISBN 9780999036488. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Jenny Holloway is looking for adventure abroad now that she has financial means. Her only obstacle is in obtaining that money from her solicitor. Tom Finchley still cares for Jenny despite their previous falling out, and to ensure she is safe, he takes over organizing her travel plans. Suddenly, Tom decides to abandon London and go with Jenny to India. Along the way, they rekindle their passion for each other, but Jenny’s determination to live overseas is in conflict with Tom’s desire to stay close to home. Matthews immerses readers in the intricate descriptions of exotic locales and the difficulties of Victorian travel, slowing the pace in the first half of the novel. Tom, the embodiment of an antihero, is neither aristocratic nor wealthy but rather an ordinary man with a morally ambiguous character. He desperately cares for Jenny, but his overbearing control of the journey highlights his manipulative nature, with Jenny’s independence suffering as a result.
VERDICT Fans of the series will enjoy exploring secondary characters’ lives and the truly heroic compromises Tom makes to be with the woman he loves. Those new to the series should start with the first title, The Matrimonial Advertisement.—Eve Stano, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, IN
This review was originally published in Library Journal Xpress Reviews: E-Originals, March 22, 2019.
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Mimi Matthews balances charm, adventure, and romance amidst vividly painted exotic locales in this Victorian novel. It matches a spunky and daring heroine to her perfect complement of a hero whose thoughtful nature and intelligence make their story one of friendship and familiarity not often plumbed within such an era– and their romance all the more meaningful for its resilience and selfless nature.

There are so many things I love about this novel that make it one of my favorites in its Victorian niche: the layers of the story, the wonderful world travel, the smart friendship between Jenny and Tom, the important secondary characters, the romantic tension (that. is. always. there.), and the fact that their romance is apart from the course of their lives.

I love that Jenny’s sense of identity never changes. She is a strong character whose journey is not about “finding herself”, but about her dreams changing and how the surprise possibility of love makes her see herself and choices differently without diminishing the value of her initial stance. She and Tom face their romance head-on, which I also appreciated, fully sharing their feelings and doubts in a straightforward manner. Tom, in turn, grows and reconciles his childhood and some of his past choices because he bends to see life through Jenny’s eyes.A Modest Independence and tea

While I’m on the subject of Tom Finchley, let’s just talk about how his intelligence is SO attractive. I mean, his demeanor + the era make the simplicity of being on a first name basis just downright intimate.  In various situations, he goes above and beyond to see after Jenny, all while respecting her abilities and wishes. 

With A Modest Independence, Mimi Matthews has established herself as a must-read author when it comes to historical romance. Her practiced and timeless style is proves her to be a contemporary of a Victorian voice. I am eager for what’s next in this series!!!

Content note: overall a clean read, especially concerning the romance element, but there are some very mild expletives, mostly uttered by the characters in the company of gentlemen. 🙂

Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.
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A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews begins with Jenny Holloway being given 5,000 pounds by Lady Helena -- she was Lady Helena’s former lady's companion.    This gift, which was a fortune to Jenny, enables Jenny to become independent, and with this independence she decides to experience the world and to have an adventure and travel to India, unaccompanied.  While she is India she wants to search for Lady Holloway's brother, Giles Reynolds, the Earl of Castleton, who participated in the Siege of Jansai, and is presumed dead.  Jenny and Lady Holloway are not totally convinced that he died in the siege.  

 Being independent and not following the confines of society has been the desire of Jenny's  heart; Jenny feels boxed in by society and wants so desperately to break free.  Tom Finchley, the solicitor in charge of distributing her funds from Lady Holloway chooses at the last minute to travel with her.  Sparks fly and Jenny and Tom are very attracted to one another.  Will Jenny make room for Tom in her new, independent world?  Is Giles Reynolds alive and hiding out in India?  

Jenny and Tom become very absorbed in one another, and I was never able to get fully engaged in their relationship, even though I really wanted to.  Tom and Jenny discussed their feelings for each other frequently, and in my opinion too often.   Tom and Jenny did not adhere to the expected appropriate behaviors of a man and woman in the Victorian Age.  Many times they were alone together without a chaperone, even sharing a compartment at one point as they traveled to New Delhi.

 SPOILER ALERT:*** The author describes their wedding night, not with great detail, but I would have preferred that she left this out.  Just a personal preference, as I enjoy reading about ballrooms, not bedrooms.

I liked that this novel, like so many Regency and Victorian novels, did not take place in a ballroom   I enjoyed the exotic locations that this novel sent me to, and to see how travel to an exotic location, like India, was in the Victorian Age.  Who knew bringing your own lines would be so important!   The novel was well research and well written.  Rating:  3.5

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A sweet and romantic story that I would recommend to all fans of historical romance! It is also a great adventure with a few interesting twists.
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Skipping the book description and just plunging into a book isn't something I usually do, so the storyline was a surprise, and a very pleasant one at that. Picking up not long after the first Parish Orphans of Devon novel, A Modest Independence centers on two characters who were important secondary characters in The Matrimonial Advertisement, lady's companion Jenny Holloway and solicitor Tom Finchley.

Having been gifted with a settlement substantial enough to give her the modest independence of the title, Jenny finds herself able to travel and determines to locate her distant cousin who was reportedly killed in a conflict in India. She is looking for freedom and adventure, but an impetuous kiss and the admittance of mutual pangs of longing bring an unexpected companion on her travels. As Jenny and Tom travel from 1860's London to various cities and remote villages in British-ruled India, they search for information while courting scandal despite the presence of Jenny's two servants.

Jenny is a 28 year old spinster who has decided never to marry for fear of losing her new-found independence. Tom is a ruthless solicitor haunted by his childhood, who now longs to represent more deserving clients. And as they travel, struggling not to give in fully to those mutual longings, their romance is constantly frustrated and consistently sweeter for it, as Tom continually sees and meets Jenny's every need.

While their travels are interesting and obviously well researched, and their romance is achingly fraught and lovely, the story does bog down a bit with the length of their journey. But ultimately this is an engrossing, transportive, and gratifying read that left me happy with the amount of space left for more of Jenny and Tom's stories to unfold as well as those of Jenny's servants, cousins Mira and Ahmad.

Mimi Matthews has quickly become a go-to author for well written and absorbing general market chaste historical fiction set in the Victorian era. In A Modest Independence,the engaging storyline and appealing characters are enhanced by Matthews' well researched attention to detail. Highly recommended.

This review refers to a digital e-galley read through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
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I didn't love this book as much as I have every other Mimi Matthews book. It wasn't due to any fault with the writing, which was beautiful and vibd as always, but more because I just couldn't connect with the characters.
The descriptive writing is something I love about Mimi Matthews because she makes yiu feel like you are really there and the connection between the characters is always so real and so well written. 
I'm not letting me put this off reading her other books because this is the first time I just haven't felt into the characters and I still enjoyed reading this book despite thst. 
I was given a free copy of this book in 3xchange for an honest review. 3 stars.
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This was my second book by Mimi Matthews, and for me, this one really worked. When I saw this book traveled outside England, I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. Matthews is a strong writer and her historical research is evident in the pages. It was fun journeying halfway across the world to India, taking an overland route, through the pages of this novel. I enjoyed the amount of details included as it balanced with story progression. The journey took them through France, Italy, Egypt and India.

When I reviewed the first book in this series, I noted that I would be interested in trying more if the story interested me, and this one proved that. I also thought the romance in this one stronger in this one, though it could get a bit circular. The lead characters, Jenny and Tom, were together most of the trip, and their romantic connection grew based shared experiences and time to learn and understand each other. They had months in each other’s company. Note: while there’s kissing, these novels do not go beyond the bedroom door.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and would recommend to readers that like different historical settings. 

*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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After The Matrimonial Advertisement I looked forward to A Modest Independence, which follows the story of Jenny Holloway, ladies maid to the heroine of the last novel, and Tom Finchley, a lawyer who worked for the hero. The author says that he is loosely based on Mr Tulkinghorn from Bleak House, only a lot less sinister.

Its a very interesting slow burning romance in which the characters love develops during a journey of thousands of miles to India. Jenny is determined that she wants to remain independent, and Tom has never shown any real interest in marriage, but the two find themselves increasingly drawn together. In fact, Tom only agrees to accompany her because his sense of honour won't let him leave an unmarried woman to travel unchaperoned.

The setting and descriptions of the places were vivid and realistic: one could almost feel the turbulent the boat rides and journeys to rickety trains in remote regions of India. Jenny's excitement at seeing ancient building and artifacts was palpable, making the audience want to experience other cultures alongside her.
The historical backdrop was also fascinating: the story was set two years after a rebellion in India, and presents events from both sides, and other details and events are explored, such as the propensity for British officers to marry Indian women, Victorian methods of travel, and tea-growing.

I gave the novel a lower rating for a couple of reasons. First, whilst she was not hard to be sympathetic to Jenny, I'm not sure I always liked her. At times she came over as obstinate, and the reasons for her stance became a little repetitive. Perhaps it was that her life story and its details were meant to slowly unfold, but I felt I knew enough after a while, and did not need to be told again.
There were times readers might wonder how a man like Tom could stay true to himself and retain is scruples and such a sense of honor, and yet still do to the job he did. This was explained towards the end though.
Second, I noticed a few Americanisms which I did not really expect from a British author. At least, I think the author is British.

I did appreciate this as a clean and enjoyable novel set in the late Victorian period, which has a very unusual and exotic setting. I don't usually read much General Market fiction set in this period, but Mimi Matthews is becoming a favourite. The next book in this series looks to be another exciting adventure set in France.

I received a copy of this title from the author or their representative. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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A Modest Independence is the second book in Mimi Matthews' Parish Orphans of Devon series, and brings together solicitor Tom Finchley and companion Jenny Holloway.  Having read the first book, The Matrimonial Advertisement, I was anticipating more of Matthews' great writing and character development and was not disappointed.

Tom has been given charge of the financial "independence" of 5000 pounds that Lady Helena has bestowed on Jenny.  She is intent on using it to gain her literal independence, get away from the constraints of life in England, and see the world.  

"One grows tired of waiting for knights in shining armor.  Sometimes nothing will do but to rescue oneself."

Tom sees a kindred spirit in Jenny as he knows what it's like to "thirst for freedom, to dream of starting one's life anew."  He feels a deep attraction to and wouldn't mind being Jenny's knight in shining armor. 

"If he wanted her in his life, he couldn't win her with plotting and trickery.  He would have to win her on his own merits.  Not as an attorney, but as a man."

It is a man in love who puts his life on hold to give Jenny what she wants - independence, freedom and adventure - and Matthews paints a vivid picture of their travel and adventure during the Victorian period.

Tom is a wonderful character and so ready to love Jenny.  As I read the story, the adage, "If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back , they're yours.  If they don't, they never were" resounded.  In his love for her, Tom sets Jenny free.  So emotional and heartfelt!  

Their HEA only comes when Jenny finally learns that independence, freedom, and adventure mean nothing if she's not with the one she loves.  

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.   I'm definitely looking forward to book three!
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I've read and loved Mimi Matthews in the past. Three books, in fact, all highly rated by me. So I expected no different from this book. Yet I was so disappointed. Thankfully this is a book I can easily put my finger on the issues I had.

Jenny was a struggle for me. Even though I liked her well enough in The Matrimonial Advertisement and I can understand her thought process, that didn't make relating to her any easier for me. Jenny has always been at the mercy of someone else. First her drunken and irresponsible father. Then her callous brothers. Next, she was little more than a servant as Helena's companion and ultimately put out on the street by Helena's uncle. Now that Helena has given Jenny a modest independence she wants to actually be independent and travel on her own. During the process, she hopes to find out what happened to Helena's brother, Giles, who supposedly died in the war. As someone who's biggest dream was to get married and have a family of my own, I struggle when characters are so wholly opposed to marriage. Of course, my dream doesn't have to be everyone else's, but it just makes her character a little less enjoyable for me.

Tom was so impressive in The Matrimonial Advertisement that I found him utterly disappointing in A Modest Independence. He joined Jenny's journey and adventure without actually listening to her desires. And despite Jenny constantly praising him for "always doing the right thing", when it came to Jenny he always made the wrong decision. He constantly chose the path that put her reputation in jeopardy, was selfish, and even though Jenny and Tom never did anything wrong according to today's standards (although let's be honest, there are no real standards when it comes to this in today's culture--whatever makes you happy after all... But that's a different post for a different blog), they constantly put themselves into the wrong circumstances. Sneaking around, lying, and self-serving despite the consequences. These two were no better than Katy Evan's Mr. President. And they're both to blame. Tom just ignored Jenny's repeatedly telling him what she wanted in the long run and as a result, put himself in a situation that resulted in him getting hurt. I have no sympathy for that. I said in my review of Mr. President that I don't enjoy reading about characters that have no backbone and continually choose the wrong path--the selfish path. An occasional mistake is different from a purposeful trek down the wrong path.

The events of A Modest Independence, in general, were so boring to me. Traveling during this time period was excruciatingly slow. There was one train after a boat after a train after a boat after another train and another train and ultimately a cart ride--even if this was historically accurate. All mixed in were hidden dalliances and sneaking around. Making out and gossip. The journey to find out what happened to Giles was so boring and anticlimactic. Not to mention predictable.

And speaking of predictable, the entire book was quite so. Nothing surprised me. And predictability isn't always negative if the process to the end is enjoyable. For me, it was not. Truly I debated DNFing A Modest Independence multiple times. The only reason I kept reading was that I'm so curious to know what has become of Alex Archer. But if the next book in the series follows Tom and Jenny's journey to find Alex, I might have to respectfully pass. I'll wait and see what the description says.

A Modest Independence was a combination of several reading pet peeves for me. A mixture of characters I can't relate to and find hard to support due to a continual pursuit down a path that's doomed due to selfishness yet works out for their benefit. Slow progress. And repetition. None of these are things that I enjoy reading about. Unfortunately, A Modest Independence gets 2 Stars from me. Have you read A Modest Independence? What did you think? Let me know!
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So far, Mimi Matthews is 3/3. I started with A Holiday by Gaslight, then read the first Orphans of Devon book, A Matrimonial Advertisement, before beginning A Modest Independence. This book does build on the first, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary to read them in order. I was hesitant about this book, even after having a good experience with the first two I read, because historical fiction tends to have a hard time reckoning with the realities of British colonialism in a forthright and non-romanticised way, but in the end, my concern was unfounded. Ms. Matthews clearly spent a lot of time researching and was deliberate about the choices she made portraying the colonizers in India as well as the Indian people. The settings (which were quite varied as the story moves from London to India and back to Devon) were well drawn, interesting, and vivid, and the characters and the arc of the relationship were very distinct from the first book in the series. The love story was tender and believable, and even though you know everyone will be happy in the end, the journey (both metaphorical and literal) is twisty and bumpy. Good stuff.
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I love Mimi Matthews' writing, so it's with a heavy heart that I say I did not like this book.  I tried, but it was so difficult to get into.  I found the romance to be very lukewarm, and the chemistry between the MCs barely there.  It was just...boring.  The romance, that is.  I found the travel and historical details really interesting, very well written.  Sadly, without the romance being strong, it goes in my shelf as just okay.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for a review based on my honest opinion.

This was the second book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series, it would be good as a stand alone book, although I very much enjoyed the first book. This book is the story obout Tom Finchley and Jenny Holloway, and their adventures from Devon all the way to India and back again in the 1860s.  It was a beautifully written book, I could see and appreciate the work and research that was obviously put into this book and loved the journey our characters took not just the physical journey but their journey as friends and the underlying love that they both have for one another but both try to hide and ignore. A truly lovely story, so descriptive, I could almost feel the warmth for the sun. Wonderful ending which leaves me impatiently waiting to read the next book in this series.
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I enjoyed this second book in Matthews’ Parish Orphans series. I did feel that it moved a bit slower than the first book did. The traveling got a bit repetitive. Still, I’m looking forward to the next two books. In the series.
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